Battle councillor resigns over Almonry project

Almonry Gardens, Battle. SUS-160311-103152001
Almonry Gardens, Battle. SUS-160311-103152001

A councillor has resigned from Battle Town Council over costs to renovate the town’s Almonry building.

Bernard Brown claimed the project was ‘already over budget’ and stepped down at a recent meeting in protest over the council keeping the costs of the scheme confidential.

He said: “I believe confidentiality has been applied to prevent public scrutiny.

“The Almonry project is a vanity project of little value to the taxpayer.  

“If I had not resigned I would be condoning an appallingly wasteful project which is undoubtedly not in the best interest of the residents of Battle.”

Battle Town Council said in 2018 it approved a significant increase in its council tax precept to allow for the application to the Public Works Loan Board for a £600,000 loan to provide for refurbishment and the rebuild of the south wing of the Almonry building.  

It added that following further discussion, it was recognised structural, condition and roof surveys needed to be undertaken to ensure that any proposed work would bring the building up to an appropriate standard befitting the Grade 2* Listed status.  

The council added that it was also highlighted accessibility for all was necessary for the public facility, which is now used by both town and district council officers. 

The town council said this had resulted in revised figures for the project and an acknowledgement that the scheme had to be regularly reassessed before progressing to tender stage.

The professional services to provide the evidence necessary to go to tender has been quoted at approximately £49,000, the council said.

It added it felt necessary to ensure definite costs are obtained to allow for a full consultation with Battle residents regarding the options available prior to any final action being taken.  

Council chairman, Cllr Glenna Favell, said: “The council has had to make some difficult decisions, the toughest one being whether or not to take the Almonry project to tender. This decision was not taken lightly.

“However, this will provide accurate costs for the repairs and refurbishment of the Almonry, and also for the rebuilding of the south wing in order to provide access for all.

“Once these are known, residents will be able to make a fully informed decision about the future of the Almonry.”

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